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Sand Point Lighthouse                                                                                     | Picture gallery |


The Sand Point Lighthouse was built in 1867, by the National
Lighthouse Service, at a cost of $11K.  It was a story-and-a-half, rectangular building, standard for the times, with an attached brick tower topped by a cast iron lantern room which housed a fourth
order Fresnel lens.  The light, a fixed red signal, first showed on the night of May 13, 1868.  Ships, first schooners and later steamers
and whalebacks, carried iron ore out  from the several ore docks,
and lumber from sawmills.  Even before the railroad reached
Escanaba from Green Bay, passengers arrived by boat from the
south.

 

The light warned the ships off Sand Point and the sand reef which reached out into the Bay.

 

The Sand Point Lighthouse served mariners continuously from 1868
until 1939, except for a short time in 1886 when it was out of commission because of a fire which severely damaged the building.  This also cost the life of Merry Terry, one of the first women light keepers on the Great Lakes. 

 

Nine keepers and their families lived in the Sand Point Lighthouse and kept the light burning in its tower and shining out over Little Bay De Noc. 

 

When the US Coast Guard took over all navigational lights in the country from the National Lighthouse Service in 1939, changes came to the Sand Point Lighthouse.

 

     By 1939, the contours of Escanaba Harbor had been
    changed by dredging and filling, leaving the lighthouse
    some distance from the hazard for which it had been
    giving warning. So, upon taking responsibilities for
    navigational lights that year the Coast Guard constructed
    a crib light several hundred feet offshore. This crib light is
    still in use today, and may be seen from the windows of
    the old Sand Point Lighthouse.

 
    The Coast Guard then established an Aids to Navigation
    Team in Escanaba, its activities centered in the
    Lighthouse location.

 

The building itself, after major alterations, became the family residence for the Officer-in-Charge of the station.  The lens and lantern room were removed, and the height of the tower reduced by ten feet.  This necessitated the removal of the circular metal stairway and construction of a wooden stair within the square tower.  The roof of the main building was raised four feet to permit the construction of three bedrooms and a bath on the second floor.  Additional windows were cut into the original walls, and door openings and walls changed in the interior of the building.  In later years, sheet insulation and aluminum siding were applied over the entire exterior, thus destroying any semblance to a lighthouse.
 

In 1985 the Coast Guard decided to discontinue the use
of the building as a residence and indicated that it might
be razed.  This aroused the interest of the Delta County
Historical Society, since it was known that under the
modern facade was the Lighthouse building, one of the
oldest and most historic buildings in the area.

 

A lease form the Coast Guard was negotiated, and
research and fundraising began.

 

A copy of the original 1867 plan of the building, which
may be seen in the exhibits room of the restored Light
house, existed in the Archives of the Society.  This
with other information from the National Archives, gave sufficient information to begin to restore the exterior
to the original appearance.  A duplicate cast iron
lantern room from Poverty Island, and a forth order lens completed the authenticity of the restoration
.

 

 







2007
Delta County Historical Society 16 Water Plant Road Escanaba, MI 49829
(906) 789-6790 deltacountyhistsoc@sbcglobal.net
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